One of Graham Greene’s characters famously said, “I suffer, therefore I am,” suggesting that pain is an inescapable, and perhaps incurable, part of the human condition. But must this be so? Ellen Macfarland argues otherwise in The Sacred Beyond Trauma. Through the use of mythology, stories from film and fiction, real-life examples, and her personal history, Macfarland shows that healing trauma is indeed possible, using rich resources near at hand, in nature. The book explores major symbols of healing nature that can provide an impetus for personal transformation. One of the case studies profiles Monty Roberts, a well-known horse trainer who overcame significant childhood abuse by working with horses and eventually fostering some forty children alongside his own biological family. The key, says Macfarland, is using these and other natural symbols such as yin yang to balance the tension between trauma and numinosity (sacredness, transcendence), resulting in the creation of a new way of being in the world. Understanding this and the book’s other nature-based symbols can turn the distressed mind into a fertile field of spiritual awareness, empowerment, and lifelong growth.
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